Housing Commission proposes targeted incentives

Mar 24, 2016

The Hutchinson Housing Commission on Wednesday requested funds for the 2017 budget for four new programs assisting people with building, buying or rehabilitating homes in targeted areas.

The largest request came at the recommendation of City Council member Steve Dechant. He suggested setting aside money for “gap financing” on infill construction of new homes. In older neighborhoods with vacant lots, it typically costs more to build a new home than it could be sold for. The proposed program could make up that gap between cost and sale price.

Planning and Development Director Jana McCarron said the latest information the city had suggested that gap would be around $20,000, making it an expensive matter on a per-house basis.

Dechant said even two or three houses would be a good start. He said he had recently been in Hays and drove around some of that city’s older neighborhoods. Hays had its share of deteriorating houses, but fewer vacant lots than Hutchinson’s older areas, Dechant said. He said the lack of vacant lots made the neighborhoods look better.

The Housing Commission voted to request funds for gap financing for two or three houses.

The Housing Commission also voted to request $70,000 for a pair of housing rehabilitation incentives targeted at specific neighborhoods. The larger would offer up to 10 grants of up to $4,000 each for repairs to homes in the West Avenue A neighborhood or Houston Whiteside Historic District. The grants would pay for supplies and materials, while Interfaith Housing Services would organize volunteer labor.

The other housing rehab program would pay up to $3,000 in interest on up to 10 loans, partnering with a local bank or credit union, for home repairs in the Graber Elementary School neighborhood or Houston Whiteside Historic District.

The Housing Commission also requested funding for an incentive program for home buyers. The program would provide $2,500 in down payment assistance for people who currently rent in Reno County to buy a home in the Graber or West Avenue A neighborhoods or Houston Whiteside Historic District. The home buyer would have to match that with at least $1,500 of their own for the down payment. The commission requested $35,000, enough to assist with 14 down payments.